Healthy Living

What is Sepsis?

What is Sepsis?

Key Takeaways

  • This condition is most commonly seen in people with a weak immune system and in elderly people.
  • Symptoms of sepsis include high fever or extremely low body temperature, fast heart rate, rapid breathing, and nausea.

Sepsis is a serious medical condition characterized by an exaggerated immune response towards an infection. This response causes the release of chemicals, which results in widespread inflammation and blood clotting in different parts of the body. Sepsis may result in sudden drop in the blood pressure, affect the blood circulation and even lead to organ failures. Although it can affect anybody, this condition is most commonly seen in people with a weak immune system and in elderly people.

The most common cause of sepsis is a bacterial infection. The infection often begins in the location where the infectious agents gain access into the body, which can be either harmless or a serious. If it is serious, health issues like pneumonia, appendicitis, or meningitis can occur. IV lines and surgical incisions may also be the starting point for infections in patients who are hospitalized.

Risks of developing sepsis:

  • People with weak immune systems
  • Elderly people
  • People who have been hospitalized for serious illness
  • People who had surgery or other invasive medical procedures
  • People with longstanding diabetes
  • Very young children
  • Those with extensive burns

The symptoms of this condition may differ according to the starting point of the infection.

 Symptoms:

  • Very high fever or very low body temperature
  • Fast heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the joints like wrists, elbows, back, hips, and ankles

Sepsis is a medical emergency and if any of the signs or symptoms of sepsis is seen one should immediately get medical attention. This is especially true if the person is having a weak immune system. Immediate diagnosis is the first step towards a successful treatment. The most common line of treatment is with broad spectrum antibiotics to stop the bacterial infection. Blood pressure will be maintained by giving IV fluids. Doctors may also try to maintain the oxygen content of the blood. Other steps in the treatment may depend upon the type and severity of the symptoms seen. Some may recommend supportive care including dialysis and breathing machine if the symptoms are affecting these organs. Surgery also may be suggested to drain the infection in some cases. If the blood pressure drops suddenly, vasopressors may be helpful in improving the condition.